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Youth Advisory Board – February 2018

22 February 2018: posted by BigChange

On Saturday 17th Feb our Youth Advisory Board  joined us at the Battleship Building in London – the topic on the agenda was big:

Reimagining education to ensure we set young people up to thrive in life and not just exams.

Building from the last meeting where the group really got into the nitty gritty of what success in life should be all about, we spent the day wrestling with some of the big questions we’re currently exploring as part of the reimagining education campaign: Why does education need to be reimagined? How do we want education to serve us and future generations in the years to come? What would need to change about education for it to be reimagined?

This group of six 16-22 year olds had a clarity of thinking which blew us away, and some of their thoughts on the big questions were:

“The current system isn’t inclusive enough. We need to see the potential in every young person, not just a few who happen to speak in the right way or come from the right background”

“The world has changed. It is changing. Education should be the most forward-thinking sector – this is training us for the future after all. But it’s the exact opposite”

“Education as a term feels like a problem – it has this assumption that it’s simply about a transfer of knowledge, when it should be about discovery. About providing the infrastructure for young people to learn”

“How success is determined is wrong… just through exams and league tables. How and what is recognised as outstanding should be different and based on what we really want and need for life – about life outcomes and how people are set up to grow”

“There are a lot of great teachers out there really trying to make it work – you notice that… when they take the time for students, to really see you. They aren’t the problem, it’s the system that has them jumping through hoops and force feeding us to teach for the test”

Through a series of workshops (which included dream-boarding and lots of post-its!) the group condensed their thoughts into 6 top priorities for Reimagining Education:

  • A new definition of success in education
  • A curriculum that prepares young people for life
  • Schools and the education system evaluated by personal and collective growth, not just exam results
  • Teachers from diverse backgrounds and life experiences
  • Local and community led solutions
  • Sufficient funding and resources

This was an insightful group of young people who clearly see the flaws of a system that has unwittingly narrowed its scope to what we can measure, in the pursuit of higher standards. They believe in the potential of all young people, the challenges of a system that is set up where some have a very real headstart to others, and the urgency to do something about it.

Most of all they believe in humanity and that we have to take education out of politics and short term agendas and focus on whats important in creating a positive future for all. Whenever despondent about the state of the world spending time with todays teenagers is always a reminder that Gen Z have got it covered! A bright, passionate and action oriented generation determined to make the world an even better place.

At the end of the session they created a poem to express their thoughts – each writing one line and combining them to form the verse. In just 15 minutes they came up with the below,  titled ‘Hope and Changed’:


I remember when I received my first “F”… I thought I was a failure. Disturb the balance, cause a destruction. Fear of the superior. Feeling inferior. It must be recognised that the structures of today do not suffice to enable the future we all Hope. I imagine that we can go to school and learn about the subject itself rather than rote learn a text book on a shelf. I wish I could change the system… Of course with the advice of others, I am no dictator. It seems the seasons change with age. With every moment past we find another promise laid. Washed away by the dreams we made.